The happiest place on Earth experiences the aftermath of COVID


Photo provided by Courtney Woodall

Woodall stands in front of the Epcot ball.

Laughter in the air, people smiling everywhere you look, and the buttery smell of popcorn reaches you as you walk down Main StreetDisney World is famously known for being the happiest place on Earth. Typically, everyone seems to be overflowing with joy, but in recent times, Disney might not be such a joy fest for the employees, as many are facing their worst nightmareDisney released a statement saying that they planned to let go of 28,000 of their workers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The pandemic hit Disney World hard, leaving quite a dent. Last spring, when COVID-19 began to spread in the US, the parks temporarily closed down; only a couple of parks were reopened in the summer.  The Disneyland parks located in Anaheim, California have not yet been reopened due to California’s strict state guidelines in response to the pandemic.   

The Walt Disney Company had discussions with the state of California, pushing them to reconsider the restrictions they had placed upon the whole state in hopes that the company would be allowed to reopen the theme parks with strict guidelines. The state declined the offer, which was a crucial factor that led towards Disney having to lay off 28,000 of their employees. 

According to CBS Miami, “Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney parks, said his management team worked hard to avoid layoffs; they had cut expenses, suspended projects and modified operations, but it wasn’t enough given limits on the number of people allowed into the park. 

The Disney World parks in Orlando have been open, allowing 30% limited capacity in order to keep social distancing practices as manageable as possible. 

The parks are usually filled to the brim with people, to the point where guests question themselves if there even was a quota of people allowed in the parks to being with. These rules have taken a tremendous toll on the amount of revenue that the parks are bringing in, which is significantly less than they would have if the virus had not presented itself or become such a large social issue. 

Even though thdecision to lay off employees from Disney is final, the company tried their best to make sure their former employees would have a good chance of finding another job. They are offering them severance packages where it is deemed appropriate, and some services to assist with future job placement. 

Freshman Courtney Woodall, a Disney fan, has gone to parks on several occasions and considers it some of the happiest memories that she has.   

“I don’t necessarily think that the layoffs were so much Disney’s fault as they were the pandemics. They are just trying to do their jobs as best they can, and unfortunately that included laying off some of their employees. I think they’re handling it very well because they are helping them find jobs in the future, Woodall said. 

Disney’s response to the pandemic might not have been the happily ever after the employees were hoping for, but it was something that the company had to do in order to stay afloat these past couple of months. 

“2020 has been a heck of year, and as it turns out, the pandemic has been detrimental, not only to us but even to the happiest place on earth, Woodall said.